Dennis Eckersley (Indians-Red Sox Game 1 Chat)

October 12, 2007


Game time is still quite a ways away (7:07 ET, FOX), but I couldn’t sleep much last night and now I’m up and all I can think about are Indians.

One of the first things I saw this morning after not sleeping was an article in the Boston Globe entitled “They’ve had some chief concerns,” in which Dan Shaughnessy wonders what Jacoby Ellsbury thinks of Chief Wahoo. It might be an interesting follow-up to readers of yesterday’s interview with historian Akim Reinhardt. A high point for me is when the customarily pompous and oblivious Shaughnessy seems to dismiss all cultural controversies over sports team names by concluding a listing of some of the controversies with the declaration, “For all I know, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are offended by the Minnesota Twins.”

Anyway, here’s Chief Wahoo himself riding on the shoulder of the Eck, shown here in the first of his many lives in major league baseball (those lives being, in order, young flamethrower for the lackluster Indians, ace and would-be savior of the powerful but pitching-desparate Red Sox, washed-up meatballer for the Cubs, Hall of Fame-caliber bullpen ace of the A’s, and, finally, journeyman reliever-for-hire). On the back of this card I see that he played his first season of pro ball in Reno at the age of 17. The following year, also in Reno, he struck out over 200 batters, and by the age of 20 was in the major leagues. In this photo he is 21 or maybe 22, and he already has 26 big league wins and is months away from pitching a no-hitter. His storied early success with the Indians makes his trade to the Red Sox seem, in retrospect, a bit like the more recent coming of Josh Beckett to Boston. In Eck’s first season with the Red Sox, 1978, he seemed to be the final huge piece of the World Series Championship puzzle, the brilliant young ace they needed to complement their aging resident Big Game Pitcher (in this analogy, Beckett is Eck and Curt Schilling is Luis Tiant). In the end Eckersley’s worthy efforts–he won 20 games in 1978–were not quite enough to win the division for the Red Sox, who fell in a one-game playoff to the Yankees, just as they had 30 years earlier in a one-game playoff against, who else, the Indians. That year the Indians went on to beat their partners in questionable baseball team names, the Braves, in the World Series, their last such triumph. They came close in the 1990s but always seemed to lack that dominating ace, their hitting-rich teams resembling the pre-Eck Red Sox of the 1970s. Now they have not one but two aces every bit as good as Eck ever was or Josh Beckett is, C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona. The Red Sox, on the other hand, have, after Beckett, an old man who has lost his fastball, a knuckleballer with a bad back, and a rookie from Japan who seems to have run out of gas months ago.

It’s no wonder I couldn’t sleep much last night.


  1. 1.  I had to look at the picture a few times before I realized who it was.

  2. 2.  Personally, I find the derogatory epithet “Yankee” offensive.

    Then again, I find the entire Yankee organization offends me.

    …which is to say nothing of their repellent and misguided fan base.

  3. 3.  2 : You might be on to something. The first definition listed in my dictionary for “Yankee” is “A native or inhabitant of New England.” As if it’s not derogatory enough that the New York team belittles the people from the land I grew up in by using them as their “mascot,” the word Yankee is a derivitive of a Dutch word meaning “little John,” which is analogous to the demeaning sobriquet “little guy,” as in, “why don’t you go get your shinebox, little guy.”

    In short, I think the Yankees should strongly consider changing their name back to the Highlanders, or perhaps should just leave the league altogether.

  4. 4.  I have a Rollie Fingers card where he is sans facial hair. Fingers and Eck aren’t Fingers and Eck without the ‘staches. It’s just wrong.

    Maybe Huston Street should grow a Franz Josef, to keep the tradition going.

  5. 5.  4 : This jarringly clean-shaven photo of Eckersley is no doubt a sign that at the time of the photo a mustache on Eck would have put Cleveland over the Mustache Cap (see http://cardboardgods.baseballtoaster.com/archives/829038.html).

    It’s entirely possible that his demands to grow a mustache are what got him traded to Boston (though the more well-known explanation is that the trade was made necessary by the fact that Cleveland outfielder Rick Manning was having an affair with the Eck’s wife).

  6. 6.  I recall arguing with a friend about this Eckersley card. Eckersley’s face looked like one of those Topps phony paint jobs, with fake shadows and too much color. I did not know at the time that Eckersley was Native American and that the distinctive features on the card may have been real. But I trusted that Topps would not pull a fast one on us. So I insisted the photo was real. But my friend was adamant that the photo was a con job: “Nobody looks like this!”

  7. 7.  I always thought that Eckersley and Sam Malone would have had a lot of fun as teammates before they stopped drinking. Probably more fun than Eck had with Rick Manning.

  8. 8.  Tonight’s win probabilities:

    Favorite: Red Sox

    Win Probability:
    Simulator: 52.45%
    LV Hilton: 59.51%

    vr, Xei

  9. 9.  6 : I also thought the card looked a little weird. The sky behind him, too. But he’d already been in the league for two years, so it’s not like they had to scramble to colorize a black and white photo.

    I didn’t know he was Native American. In a brief search on the Internet I couldn’t find any confirmation of that, but I did find a great “life story” article on him from an ’04 issue of the SF Chronicle:


  10. 10.  I could have sworn that I read somewhere that Eckersley was Native American, but I just Googled the situation can find any proof. If he’s not Native American, then I stand corrected as an ignoramus and the card reverts to “unusual” status.

  11. 11.  I could have sworn that I read somewhere that Eckersley was Native American, but I just Googled the situation cant find any proof. If he’s not Native American, then I stand corrected as an ignoramus and the card reverts to “unusual” status.

  12. 12.  I thought I’d heard somewhere that Eckersley was Native American too, so I tried a Lexis search. I haven’t found anything yet, but I did find this quote from Don Sutton in an article from almost ten years ago:

    “I doubt very seriously there will be another 300-game winner because I don’t think it will be as important as it was to us,” the newest Hall of Famer said Tuesday, a day after his election. “There are 10 or 15 who could. I don’t think we’re going to see too many 40-year-olds pitching 230 innings in the future.”

    Roger Clemens, 36 next August, leads active pitchers with 213 victories. Dennis Eckersley (43) is second with 193, followed by Greg Maddux (32 in April) with 184.

  13. 13.  Looking at the history of facial hair in baseball, from the 19th century players with their intimidating muttonchops, to the House of David teams, to some of the more expressive facial hair of our time, I believe this years playoffs are leading to a World Series showdown between Colorado and Boston to decide who has the more powerful facial hair; Todd Helton or Kevin Youkilis. Of course, Casey Blake may have something to say about that but I really don’t think he can keep up with the big boys.

  14. 14.  Reasons to root for the Indians:
    1. Grady Sizemore
    2. Haven’t won a world series in a gazillion years
    3. Julio Lugo and JD Drew don’t deserve a world championship
    4. CC Sabathia/Carmona
    5. Gagne does not deserve a world championship

    Reasons to root for the Red Sox:
    1. Lived 3 years in Boston(High Park, Brighton, Cambridge), it was important we move every year.
    2. My brother and his daughter still live and die with them.
    3. Is anyone more fun to watch hit then Papi
    4. Is anyone more fun to watch butcher a ball in LF then Manny
    5. Coco Crisp – just love the guy
    6. Want to see how the next Dodger 3rd baseman can handle the pressure of a World Series
    7. Borowski

  15. 15.  Cleveland:
    Sizemore CF
    Cabrera 2B
    Hafner DH
    Martinez C
    Garko 1B
    Peralta SS
    Lofton LF
    Gutierrez RF
    Blake 3B
    Sabathia P

    Pedroia 2B
    Youkilis 1B
    Ortiz DH
    Ramirez LF
    Lowell 3B
    Kielty RF
    Varitek C
    Crisp CF
    Lugo SS
    Beckett P

  16. 16.  Thanks for getting the lineups up, Bob. I just got home.

  17. 17.  16
    Home? I don’t get to go home for another two hours!

  18. 18.  I was about to say “Beckett is going through the Indians like a hot knife through butter.”

    But I decided against it.

    But then I really did type that.

  19. 19.  Pronk see ball.

    Pronk hit ball.

    Wind aided, but that one was cranked. I knew it was gone.

  20. 20.  YES! Nicely done, sir.

    The homer doesn’t bother me,necessarily-he threw a strike, and it got jacked. As Father Curt will tell us, it’s the fact that there was no one on that really matters.

    How many Americans do you s’pose see Thierry Henry and say, “he doesn’t play football.”?

  21. 21.  …Pronk?

  22. 22.  Hard to miss a target that big.

  23. 23.  21 That’s Hafner’s nickname.

  24. 24.  SO there is approximately zero foul territory anywhere in Fenway Park? Sure explains a few things, doesn’t it?

  25. 25.  Doesn’t look like ‘ol C+C Music Factory is proving to be too much of a puzzle.

  26. 26.  I hope this series goes seven games so we can see this pitching matchup three times.

  27. 27.  24 Approximately, yes. It’s even worse with the photographer’s boxes.

    Remember this place was built the week the Titanic went down. (The ship, not the movie.)

  28. 28.  Oh boy, oh boy. If Manny gets ahold of one of those heaters squarely, it’s going to come down in Allston.

  29. 29.  I think we’re approximately 1700 comments behind the Yankees-Indians Game 4 chat on Bronx Banter.

  30. 30.  24 : One of the keys to all the Red Sox batting titles through the years.

  31. 31.  29 But I think if we put our minds to it we can still beat them in Scott Proctor jokes.

  32. 32.  Kenny learned how to work the count from his stint with the Dodgers.

  33. 33.  Is it me or was Beck as shocked as anybody when Manny gloved that?

  34. 34.  What’s that, Tim? Did I just hear you say that there are issues with a small sample size? Do tell…..

  35. 35.  Coco Crisp always makes me hungry. For cereal, for some odd reason I can’t quite put my finger on.

  36. 36.  CC seems to have settled down, er…

  37. 37.  Perforce I buried Mr. Sabathia too hastily.

  38. 38.  Make no mistake, he’s nasty-but in the first inning, the Sox didn’t look as helpless as I feared against him.

  39. 39.  Can only Hispanic broadcasters say Asdrubal Cabrera’s first name without making it sound dirty?

  40. 40.  39
    I believe his father, Hamilcar Barca, can pronounce it correctly.

  41. 41.  If they are trying to make Dodger fans feel bad about not having Franklin Gutierrez, it is not working.

  42. 42.  OK, that’s a poser….Lofton, Wakefield, Varitek?

  43. 43.  42 That’s what I have.

  44. 44.  Oh no, Dane Cook is reading copy on the Rockies now. We’d made it so far!

  45. 45.  I’m sorry, but I like Dane Cook, and I really don’t understand the problem people have with him.

  46. 46.  Wow, playing the shift with runners on for Papi, that’s an interesting move.

  47. 47.  So, it counts as a HBP if it just hit’s the jersey and not the player, huh?

  48. 48.  and here come de bad man……

  49. 49.  Can I just say that it is completely inappropriate to be playing baseball in this weather?

  50. 50.  45
    He is not funny, he steals jokes, and he makes terrible movies.

  51. 51.  I caught about 2 minutes worth of Around the Horn today, everyone’s favorite sports columnist was saying that the D-Backs wouldn’t win the NLCS because “it’s a different kind of baseball in the LCS and they’re too young and in experienced.” The rest of the panel basically told him he was a moron without actually saying it, along the lines of “the Cubs had more veterany goodness and got swept, and the Rockies are also young, oh, and they’ve only played one game in the series.”

    It was quite entertaining.

  52. 52.  36 …or not.

  53. 53.  51 I saw that too. That was funny.

  54. 54.  If you don’t count the uniform for HBP purposes, you might as well not count the helmet.

  55. 55.  That’ll do.

    What do you suppose is giving Sabathia so much trouble?

  56. 56.  That should be a double and a run scored or am I crazy?

  57. 57.  That sac bunt really paid off. Way to play some scrappy small ball, boys!

  58. 58.  56
    My trusty MLB.com Gameday said it was a double and RBI.

  59. 59.  54 – I just find it interesting that a guy can wear a baggy shirt and if the ball hits the shirt but not him, he gets a base.

    55 – I’d say the lack of a real fence in right and/or foul territory.

  60. 60.  Wow. Never mind. CC needs a few cc’s of adrenaline, or morphine.

  61. 61.  Coco Crisp’s “two parallel black smudges” goatee is an insult to facial hair-wearers everywhere.

  62. 62.  50 I think he’s hysterical, I’ve heard that he steals jokes before, and I’ve never seen his movies.

    I am by no means an expert, but I watch and listen to a lot of standup, and I’ve never heard him duplicate anyone else’s work.

    I guess I have to take Scott Long’s word for it, because he’s working the clubs and I am not.

    But I still think he’s funny.

  63. 63.  57 – at the time, the sac bunt was the right play. Tie game, no outs, get the runner into a position where he can score on anything hit out of the in field. An out is more likely than a hit, getting a run in what figures to be a close game is always important.

    The fact that the Red Sox scored 3 runs after the fact does not negate the fact that it was the right move at the time.

  64. 64.  59
    Ron Hunt got 50 HBPs in one season thanks to a baggy shirt.

    Do you want to see David Ortiz wearing a tight shirt?

  65. 65.  58 No, I mean the runner from third should be allowed to score since the fielder touched the ball. The auto-2B is no longer in effect and the ump can assign the runners however he feels is appropriate. I am looking up the rule.

  66. 66.  59 The same way a DT can wear a skin tight jersey so offensive linemen can’t grab hold.

    What I mean about Sabathia is, he’s got great stuff, but he is just missing his spots, and missing them by plenty.

    Maybe it’s just too freakin’ cold to play baseball in the Northeast in mid October.

  67. 67.  63 : I could see it in later innings, but giving up an out when you’re trying to get a multirun rally going doesn’t make sense to me.

  68. 68.  I don’t like standup in general (Chris Rock is the exception) and I honestly haven’t really heard any of Cook’s work.

    I just think he’s a rather arbitrary and annoying choice to be the principle face of the baseball playoffs on TV. Trustworthy sources inform me that Cook is seen all the time wearing both Red Sox AND Yankees hats. This clearly makes him unqualified.

    Besides, even if there weren’t issues about Cook himself, I don’t particularly want baseball marketing itself to his demographic anyway. If people don’t like the game because it’s too civilized, let’s not make the GAME less civilized, let’s try and civilize people.

  69. 69.  But then again, it’s cold for Beckett, too.

  70. 70.  65 No, I was wrong:

    Rule 6.09 (g) Any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;

  71. 71.  68 *Principal.

  72. 72.  67 – I guess the thought process is, “We’re going against one of the Cy Young Award favorites, runs will be scarce.”

    I probably wouldn’t have called for it, given the guys that were coming up. But if that was the only run that the Sox scored, it would have made a very big difference, no?

  73. 73.  As a phils fan I am loving this discussion of Francona as best mgr. Totally nuts.

  74. 74.  68 Very well said.

    But Fox has proven to baseball watchers, time and time and time again, they are not looking for us as viewers-they know we’re going to watch anyway. They’re looking for the people who go to Super Bowl parties and don’t know who is playing.

  75. 75.  Cruise control. Wow.

  76. 76.  74 – there’s still got to be a better way to market to those people. Cook seems to be a rather polarizing figure, you either love the guy or you want to throw your laptop through your TV when he’s on; not exactly the guy that I’d build a marketing program around.

    Personally, I’d get a famous fan of each team to do spots about those teams. But, I’m not a marketing genius

  77. 77.  76
    Because there are so many famous DBacks and Rockies fans?

    And would we want to see a commercial with Ben Affleck?

  78. 78.  72 : Yeah, that’s true, if the game had ended 2-1 on a sac-bunt sac-fly combo it would have looked like genius. I just didn’t like taking the bat out of Dustin’s hands, ’cause he can rake.

  79. 79.  76 – I’m sure they could find someone… and I’d rather see Ben Affleck, who at least knows something of baseball, than Dane Cook who has yet to show any intelligence

  80. 80.  Fox Soccer Channel broadcasts games with a crew of one supporter of each side instead of a play-by-play and color guy sometimes. I think that would be a great thing for baseball to do — get some real diehards going back and forth to let casual fans know how intoxicating the game is. Listening to the guys the networks put on the air gives the impression that if you watch baseball seriously you must be a complete blithering idiot.

  81. 81.  I saw Wedge hit a game winning homer in Pawtucket once.

  82. 82.  This Josh Beckett kid is pretty good. The Dodgers should have tried to get him in the LoDuca trade rather than Penny.

  83. 83.  80
    Listening to McCarver is enough to turn the entire populace into blithering idiots. It’s probably affected us already as well. Somebody has to stop Fox before it’s too late.

  84. 84.  Heh, good on Buck for making fun of the Frank TV spots.

  85. 85.  Joe Buck has already stopped watching the game

  86. 86.  Will these guys shut up about Steven King?!?

  87. 87.  That called K looked inside to me

  88. 88.  Jensen Lewis needs a first name.

  89. 89.  He’s a furniture store in NY:

  90. 90.  Hey, two “Family Guy” reruns are on before the Rockies game starts on TBS. I think that’s a better entertainment bet than the rest of this game.

  91. 91.  90 : I for one am rivited by this game.

  92. 92.  90
    I got Simpsons reruns on the CW.

  93. 93.  Who’s funnier, Brian of Family Guy or Mo of the Simpsons?

  94. 94.  I slept through all the scoring. This may have something to do with residual sedatives in my system from the colonoscopy I had this morning.

    The procedure is far less painful than the warmup the day before, what with liquid diets and massive dosages of Fleet Phospho-soda (and the result of those dosages).

    If you’re over 50, do it.

  95. 95.  I’ll take Moe over the colonoscopy, Brian over Moe, and Coach McGuirk from “Home Movies” over all three.

  96. 96.  I think I found a mistake on Wikipedia, heres the entry >>>>>Early career

    Eckersley was drafted by the Cleveland Indians out of Washington High School of Fremont, California in the third round of the 1972 amateur draft and made his Major League debut on April 12, 1975. He was the American League Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1975 compiling a 13-7 record and 2.60 ERA. His unstyled, long hair and live fastball made him an instant and identifiable fan favorite. Eckersley pitched reliably over three seasons with the Indians; he even threw a no-hitter on May 30, 1977 against the California Angels.<<<<<

  97. 97.  94
    I hear discriminating colonscopy patients prefer to use Golyghtly.

    I asked for the test at my 40th birthday because my mom died of colon cancer at a relatively young age, but my HMO wouldn’t approve it. I needed two dead parents with colon cancer.

  98. 98.  96
    Eckersley threw a no-hitter that day.


  99. 99.  Marty & now you Bob!? I ain’t looking forward to my 40’s, although my family/Dad (didn’t) & mom don’t have any history with Colon cancer so that’s pretty encouraging.

  100. 100.  97 We had buttons in pharmacy school that read “GoLytely Drinking Club”. I always thought it was an ironically named product, because if it is working correctly, you will go anything but lightly.

    I really, really, really hate insurance companies.

    The Diehards idea is a fantastic one, but since it won’t justify paying morons millions of dollars to spout inanities, it will never happen.

    Sorry I had to step out without warning, but, you see, my wife is insane.

  101. 101.  100
    In hindsight, I could have just lied to my doctor about my father’s cause of death. Would he have bothered to check to see if my medical history was right?

    It’s not like I go to Dr. House.

  102. 102.  101 Your doctor probably didn’t care, but the insurance carrier might have checked, and then you’d be in hot water.

    Is it just me, or is the woman in the yellow sweater in the Levitra commercial kinda hot?

  103. 103.  Why is Asdrubal wearing pearls? Is he going to the ball after the game?

  104. 104.  I’m going picture-in-picture for a while. I also just woke up from a nap.

  105. 105.  94 : “I slept through all the scoring.”

    104 : “I also just woke up from a nap.”

    Pulse-pounding action!!!!

  106. 106.  But I thought Joe Borowski was a Certified Major League Closer (TM). Is it legal to bring him in to a 10-3 game?

    And those words Sox fans hate to hear…”Gagne is warming up…”

  107. 107.  105
    I couldn’t wait for Game 1 of the 2004 World Series to start as I thought it would be a pretty good series.

    I dozed off in the second inning.

  108. 108.  Is there any reason for Varitek to catch the ninth?

    Or is he just too scrappy to remove?

  109. 109.  106 : I don’t mind those words if they preceed “…with a seven-run lead.”

    Also, my wife is wondering– 103 –why no one else is up in arms over the Cleveland player’s pearl necklace.

  110. 110.  Who is that guy? And why is he wearing Eric Gagne’s uniform number?

  111. 111.  Hey, I remember an Eric Gagne who pitched like that for the Dodgers! I wonder if it’s the same guy?

  112. 112.  Oh, this is the BOSTON version of Eric Gagne!

  113. 113.  Oh, there he is.

  114. 114.  Has something changed with Gagne’s mechanics that has made him seemingly implode this year? Or is this likely a totally mental thing?

  115. 115.  112 It’s like the Boston version of anything-older, more confusing, and doesn’t work as well.

  116. 116.  Honest to God, if he can’t protect a 7 run lead, what in the name of Steve Crawford is he doing on the roster?

  117. 117.  I’m angry at the douchebags in the crowd prematurely unfurling their “7 to Go” banner. I hereby discontinue my practice of counting down wins, even though I never have prematurely done so. Douchebags are always ruining everything.

  118. 118.  “Those who are left…”

    You mean Red Sox fans would leave a game early. I thought only us wussy West Coast fans did that.

  119. 119.  I was sure I was not going to hear the word “Papelbon” during this broadcast.

  120. 120.  Hooray!

  121. 121.  118 Dude! It’s COLD. I never leave a game early, but this one would have made me reexamine that policy.

  122. 122.  Well, that’s one. I don’t think t’others will be this easy, though.

  123. 123.  Can we preorder a Cardboard God for after the playoffs? How about Enzo Hernandez?

  124. 124.  123 : I’ve been trying to slip in the occasional non-playoff-related profile, but it is true that as long as the Red Sox are among the uneliminated the past will be taking a rare back seat to the present in my customarily backward-gazing life. However, rest assured that Enzo Hernandez is never that far from my mind. Not sure if that’ll soon translate to some words on his undying greatness or not, but maybe…

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